Artist Spotlight: Salt Lake City
From Mundane to Monumental: Diana Garff Gardiner
by Laura Durham
In her 1995 Masters thesis, Salt Lake City artist Diana Garff Gardiner quotes American watercolorist Charles Hawthorne: “Better to make a big thing out of a little subject than to make a little thing out of a big one.”
Gardiner takes this advice to heart as she finds focus and formality in everyday objects. In her paintings and collages she reveals the beauty of the commonplace and the seduction of simplicity. “My influence is based on where I find my center,” says Gardiner. “Some people go to church or out in nature to find their center, but for me it’s being able to capture a little bit of my past, and it’s also about the rituals I do every day.”
After receiving a BFA from the University of Utah in 1974, Gardiner took a break from school to raise a family. In 1985 she decided to return to the University where she had the opportunity to study with Paul Davis, David Dornan and Ed Maryon. “It was interesting, because at the time they wanted me to work up in the studio at the school, but I was too separate from the place that centered me, so eventually I got permission from my committee to work from home.” She moved her studio into her dining room, using a piano bench as an easel. Gardiner credits her committee chair, Paul Davis, for giving her the support she needed. “He saw that I had potential. He saw past the fact that I was a woman with a family in a Mormon culture. He was hard on me, but he encouraged me.”
Artist Spotlight: Heber
Connecting Life & Art Through Squares
The Art of Gloria Montgomery
by Emily Chaney
Nestled in a secluded corner of the Heber Valley is Gloria Montgomery’s home. Her studio is located in a large section of the house, an arrangement which she loves for its convenience and seclusion. Warm light filters in from several large windows, creating ideal working conditions. The walls are covered with numerous paintings, a testament to her years of work -- work that came from her inescapable enthusiasm for life and its many challenges.
As I sit down in a comfortable recliner, Gloria is immediately eager and open to share with me her portfolios containing past work. Turning the pages, I find each picture unique and different from the last, both in subject matter and style. Gloria takes one glance at a picture, and is instantly taken back to the day she created the piece, remembering small details, such as the weather and her mood.
For years Gloria has created still lifes using arranged marbles, rendering them in graphite, pencil, and oil. Gloria studies objects as if through a child’s eyes -- fresh, new, and full of possibilities. Her style moves from tightly rendered pencil drawings to brightly painted flowers. The paint strokes resemble Van Gogh, a comparison that makes Gloria laugh, because she has never referenced Van Gogh but has always admired his contemporary, Toulouse-Lautrec.
Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
Small Acts of Devotion
Frank McEntire's Assemblage Sculpture
by Allen Bishop
Small Acts of Devotion
- Frank McEntire
’s recent assemblages and paintings is the featured exhibit through November 15 at David Ericson Fine Art in Salt Lake City. From the looks of this show, it is quite clear that he continues to roll, and gathers no moss since leaving as director of the Utah Arts Council.
McEntire scours garage sales, thrift stores and salvage yards for discarded things magical, miraculous and spiritual. Angels, crucifixes, miniature temples, vestments, scriptures, prayer and hymn books; small figures of Christ, Hindu gods, the Virgin Mary, the Angel Moroni and Buddha; also things banal: wooden boxes, farm implements, lenses, mirrors, pop icon figurines, mannequin parts, feathers, embroidered cloth, traps, cages, sticks, stones, old typewriters and bones; and things not so banal: a bird wing, a stuffed rabbit head, a World War II gas mask and a divining rod. These crowd his studio until they whisper a voice of spiritual renewal, inspiring an assemblage of objects sacred and ordinary, born again in exultant layers of the undogmatized divine: meditations, incantations, visions, blessings, celebrations, imaginations, divinations, salvations, exaltations.
McEntire’s artist statement says he uses "the material culture produced by Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and other religious traditions." It continues: "I alter found material into something other than its initial intended use. Such juxtapositions and reconfigurations form the basis of my work - the use of constructed imagery as commentary on economics, politics, and the environment. Such unconventional use of familiar objects of devotion typically poses unanticipated questions about our times. Although my assemblages are personal explorations about current events, they none-the-less challenge others to reexamine their deeply held beliefs and assumptions and become participants in the creative process."
I sat with McEntire in his studio and discussed the workings of his mind and art. He is sorry to see so many sacred objects “callously tossed aside” when once esteemed of importance to people and to their sense of the divine. His task is to assist these objects in regaining their spiritual voice, and in unexpected recombinations, allow them to speak again - to stimulate, to challenge and to renew.